Natural Choices Newsletter - March 2006
Watch out for trans fats! Boxes and bags of processed foods are now being relabeled to let you know how much trans fat each serving contains. But you need to look closely to see if the whole truth is really being told. As you probably know, trans fats are the most dangerous fats you can eat. They raise LDL cholesterol levels and increase the level of free radicals. In fact, each gram of trans fats increases the risk of heart disease by 20% for that day. So the more fat we eat per day and each day increases our heart disease risk by a greater amount.
The new trans fat labeling law is now in effect Starting January 1, 2006, all packaged foods that enter interstate commerce in the United States must list trans fat content on their Nutrition Facts labels in the fat section. But there is no percentage listed for "% Daily Value" since the FDA recommends that the "intake of trans fats should be as low as possible." So ideally, total of all foods should contain 0 grams per serving. Yet, under FDA regulations, "if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram of trans fat, the content can be expressed as zero." But if you are eating three different foods or more than one serving of the same food that contains some trans fats you can get too much even for one day. So how do you know if there are trans fat in the food? Read the label, and look for the words "partially hydrogenated oil." This is the oil that turns into trans fats when processed. So avoid any foods that contain this type of fat that creates more of the cholesterol and triglyceride problems than any natural foods, including eggs.
McDonald's Fries Are Worse Than We Thought They Were
In February, McDonalds adjusted it procedure in measuring nutritional content in their foods, and announced that their large fries have more trans fats than previously listed. A large serving of fries at McDonald's has 570 calories, 30 grams of fat, and 8 grams of trans fats. When multiplied by the risk of heart disease, each serving of large fries causes a 160% increase in the risk of heart disease. French fries and other fried foods are the main culprit in creating many of the health challenges we have today. Remember to avoid any foods with partially hydrogenated oils. These oils become trans fats when heated. But they are dangerous even when they are not heated.
Food Companies are Trying to Fit Federal Guidelines - But Not Too Quickly
In December of 2005, Kraft Foods announced that they �had successfully completed it multi-year, voluntary fat reduction efforts in the U.S.� In addition, Kraft said their new labels with the listing of trans fats will be available by the January 1, 2006 FDA deadline. Kraft makes many popular foods such as Wheat Thins, Macaroni and Cheese, and Oreos. All these foods have been reformulated so that they can be listed not to have any trans fats. If you are not seeing these new products and labels yet, even though it is March, it is because old inventory needs to be used up before the new products come out. So when stores run out of their existing stock you will see the new reformulated products. Other companies that are in the process of reformulating their products are Frito-Lay and Kellogg's. Remember to still read the labels carefully to make sure you are getting the nutrition you want without the processed chemicals that cause too many health challenges. Remember the only way to reduce these bad fats is to first not eat them regularly. Secondly to counteract the ones you get when you do not have time to eat right or at "special" occasions, is to make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet. Also more omega-3 fish oils will help counteract the bad fats. But the fruits and vegetables are more important. Basically 5 servings of fruits and 5 servings of vegetables are recommended per day.
Natural Choices Newsletter � August 2006
Are You Killing Your Digestive System?
Do you take antacids regularly? On a daily basis? Do you need them to be able to eat your regular diet? I hope not. Original antacids were designed to be used only when needed - once or twice per week. But now the pharmaceutical antacids are designed to be taken every day to suppress stomach acid all the time. What is that doing to your digestive process? Heartburn and indigestion have a number of causes. Eating too quickly is a common cause of heartburn. As we get older it takes longer to create stomach acid. So when we eat quickly, or eat too much, by the time the good stomach acid is produced, the food has gone through the stomach area. Then the stomach acid does not have food to work on, and splashes up into the esophagus. Now this condition has been named as a disease called GERD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when acid from the stomach splashes upward, or "refluxes," and burns the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. Normally, a sphincter muscle keeps the upper part of the stomach closed, but certain lifestyle and foods can weaken it, allowing the acid to rise more easily. The result is pain in the chest (heartburn).
Overeating is the usual cause of acid reflux, as well as eating certain foods, such as fried foods, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, alcohol and caffeine. If left untreated, GERD can cause precancerous alterations in the lower part of the esophagus (a condition called Barrett�s esophagus), which can develop into esophageal cancer. For this reason, people with GERD are often given a test to evaluate the condition of the esophagus called an endoscopy. It is important to relieve the symptoms of GERD. I know from personal experience with my mother who recently died of esophageal cancer that it is very difficult to treat, and living life on a feeding tube is no fun since regular food just irritates the esophagus when it becomes inflamed or cancerous.
Most of us do not want to limit the foods we eat, and with the right digestive support we do not have to. But taking antacids to suppress stomach acid is not the answer. When we do not have the stomach acid to digest foods, we do not break down the food into usable nutrients, and cause certain bacteria to enter the digestive tract. These bacteria cause gas, bloating, and constipation or diarrhea. The good bacteria in the colon are disturbed and even worse chronic digestive and immune system problems occur. Sometimes taking acidophilus helps reduce these bacteria that are created, but that is often not enough. Popular GERD drugs such as proton-pump inhibitors like Nexium significantly increase the risk of diarrhea blamed on the Clostridium difficile bacteria. H2 antagonists that include Zantac were found to double the risk of the bacterial diarrhea. The drugs reduce stomach acid, allowing for bacteria to multiply in the digestive system causing chronic nutritional deficiencies.
Stress Also Causes Digestive Problems When we react to stress, either long-term chronic stress we live with, or sudden events that occur, our digestion changes due to nervous system reactions. Two types of nerves help to control the action of the digestive system. Extrinsic (outside) nerves help release a chemical called acetylcholine and another called adrenaline. Acetylcholine causes the muscle of the digestive organs to squeeze with more force and increase the 'push' of food and juice through the digestive tract. Acetylcholine also causes the stomach and pancreas to produce more digestive juice. Our nervous system also controls how adrenaline is used to relax the muscle of the stomach and intestine and decreases the flow of blood to these organs. This allows partially digested food to re-enter the esophageal pathway.
Lifestyle Factors That Can Help Reduce GERD Symptoms 1. Eat slowly. When we eat too fast we end up not allowing our saliva to begin the digestive process in our mouth. Chew your food enough to break it down before you swallow it. 2. Avoid overeating at any meal. Try to limit all meals to 600 calories per meal. 3. Decrease fat intake, especially all trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. 4. Increase intake of fiber from whole foods. 5. Stop smoking � smoking intensifies the symptoms of heartburn 6. Reduce or avoid coffee and alcohol 7. Do not go to bed too soon after eating. Ideally it is recommended not to eat for 3 hours before going to bed. 8. Use over the counter antacids as a last resort, and only occasionally if needed at all.
Supplement Suggestions for Acid Reflux and GERD To get the stomach digesting food more quickly it can be helpful to take supplemental betaine hydrochloric acid or HCl. Only use this if you have not had an ulcer. Since fewer than 50% of us can make enough HCl to digest proteins that we eat, taking a supplement consisting of HCl can be very helpful in preventing bloating and gas after larger meals. Usually I recommend taking one HCl capsule with each meal, and increasing as needed to get the results you want. If you ever get a warm sensation in the upper part of your stomach that means you have too much. The supplement I use with my clients is called Metagest from Metagenics. Metagest contains betaine hydrochloric acid along with pepsin, a stomach enzyme that helps digest proteins, and gentian root, an herbal bitter traditionally used to support healthy digestion. You can get Metagest from my Metagenics website.
If you do have an ulcer you are trying to heal or inflammation in your esophagus already, I recommend Ulcinex from Metagenics. Also Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root Extract in chewable form helps nutritionally support the mucus in the stomach. Licorice also helps to kill Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause most ulcers and stomach inflammation. Remember that getting the full nutrients from your foods is very important in prevent chronic disease, especially diabetes and other autoimmune diseases. If you are getting symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux, gas, and bloating on a daily basis, you are not digesting efficiently. Do something about it now.
Natural Choices Newsletter � September 2006
More Evidence for Fruits and Vegetables
Are you getting your 9 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day? Do you ever wonder why it is so important that we eat so many every day? More and more studies come out daily showing that we need fruits and vegetables to prevent chronic diseases. A recent National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results study looked at DNA damage and immune system responses in people who were at risk for Non-Hodgkin�s lymphoma. They compared results in people who ate different types of fruits and vegetables including green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and fruits and vegetables with high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. T
hey found that the people that ate the most cruciferous vegetables weekly - broccoli, Brussels Spouts, cauliflower - had a 62% less chance of Non-Hodgkin�s lymphoma. Those that ate green leafy vegetables weekly had 59% less chance of Non-Hodgkin�s lymphoma, and those that ate vegetables with lutein and zeaxanthin had 54% less chance of lymphoma compared to those that didn�t eat regular servings of vegetables. To read the whole abstract that was published in Naturopathy Digest with a printable graph, go to Naturopathy Digest Article
You Believe in the Benefits of Natural Medicine? In the same issue of Naturopathy Digest there is another article talking about the AMA's War on Naturopathic Medicine. In June 2006, this resolution shows the AMA's resolution to oppose naturopathic medicine. Here is a quote from the AMA website (that has subsequently been removed from the website) from the resolution: "RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association work through its Board of Trustees to outline a policy opposing the licensure of naturopaths to practice medicine and report this policy to the House of Delegates no later than the 2006 Interim Meeting."
The arguments the AMA is using is that allopathic medicine doctors want to 1) maintain quality of care; 2) ensure patient safety; and 3) define educational programs that set certain standard of care. Are you satisfied with the quality of care and safety of allopathic medical doctors today? I personally have issues with the safety factor. Quoting again from the article: �knowing that allopathic medical treatments kill approximately 3,500 American patients per week and that many natural treatments are comparatively safer and more effective. Also if the AMA and other medical groups are serious about "quality of care," they should start by improving their own care delivered by their medical doctors to end the danger posed to the American public. The "accidental side-effect" killing of 3,500 Americans per week as a result of drug- and surgery-based medicine is a national catastrophe that has received insufficient attention.
I know most medical doctors I know really do want to help people get healthier, but their limited options for treatment often do not produce a true healing response. Instead patients get hooked on drugs to control the underlying health issues. The number of deaths due to medication errors more than doubled from 1983 to 1993, potentially due to the short patient visit time or the number of drugs taken at one time. More than 2.2 million patients per year experience adverse side effects of drugs while in hospitals, with more than 100,000 deaths. With educational standards, even the AMA journal says that dietary interventions should be used before drugs for the treatment of high cholesterol. How many doctors have been really trained in understanding the role of diet in preventing disease? There are specialties in all areas of medicine and collaboration between naturopaths and medical doctors can benefit the patient in many ways.
When a less invasive procedure is available and not used, health care costs rise and the potential for side effects increases. Many patients are using supplements and doctors do not always understand the contraindications between medications and herbs. Now some Integrative Medicine departments have health practitioners assist clients in understanding the role of their medications along with how herbs and nutrition can help improve the action of the medication or reduce the side effects.
Talking about Nutrition - We do have to watch what we put in our body. For example, I recommend that parents avoid food colorings in their children�s diets. Just by reducing all food colorings many behavior issues can clear up or at least lessen in just a short time. But we need to look at what types of �natural� products are used for food colorings. Recent articles have revealed that ground up red beetles are being used as a food-coloring ingredient in yogurt, ice cream, juice drinks and many other grocery products. The ingredient is called "carmine." Carmine is really made from ground-up red beetles that produce a bright red product. It is found in strawberry Dannon yogurt to make the strawberry mixture pinker. Even though these beetles are not supposedly harmful, most of us do not want to knowingly eat bugs. I know there is a new labeling law making the ingredients more understandable. Maybe (but I doubt it) they will actually add "ground up red beetles" to the label listing. We will see. So whether you are looking at food labels, supplement labels, or even medications you consume on a daily basis, it is best to consider what additives you are putting in your system on a daily basis.
The FDA recently approved the use of more food colorings and titanium dioxide to make medications more appealing. Yet the effect of food additives and chemicals in our environment are cumulative - so each time we consume one it mixes with others and affects our health. Read food labels and supplement labels and use only the ones with the least amount of additives. It will make a difference you will notice over time.
Jane Oelke, N.D., Ph.D. Natural Choices, Inc. "Building Your Health Naturally" DoctorOelke@aol.com www.NaturalChoicesForYou.com www.NaturalChoicesForFibromyalgia.com 1-888-893-7225